Felix Mendelssohn: Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 1
Eric Tsai, violin
Jinyoung Yoon, violin
Hae Sue Lee, viola
Andres Sanchez, cello
Performed on Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia
0:00 Adagio—Allegro vivace
8:45 Adagio non lento
18:15 Intermezzo: Allegretto con moto—Allegro di molto
23:22 Presto—Adagio non lento
Felix Mendelssohn put himself on the musical map with his string octet when he was only 16, but his chamber music output continued at a brisk pace throughout the rest of his teens. His second string quartet, Op. 13, came just two years later, and with it he demonstrated not only a prodigious virtuosity, but a deep well of maturity and creativity.
The piece draws on a variety of inspirations. The piece introduces itself with a quotation of a song Mendelssohn wrote the same year, Ist es wahr (“Is it true?”), concerning youthful and unrequited love. The question is asked tentatively at first before swelling into a dramatic and plaintive melody. Just as its intensity seems to wane, a viola trill spurs the group into the main body of the movement. From here, Mendelssohn draws on Beethoven in a dramatic sonata-form movement, its energy derived from a combination of vigor and complex counterpoint.
The slow movement harkens back to the Ist es wahr motif while also referencing the Cavatina of Beethoven’s Op. 130 quartet and the fugue of his Op. 95 quartet. The third movement, an Intermezzo, is Mendelssohn in his most lyrical mode. The furious opening of the final movement references the recitative from Beethoven’s Op. 132 quartet, before spilling into an Allegro section. Mendelssohn closes the quartet with an expanded version of the Ist es wahr material with which he began the first movement. After so much tumult and excitement and discord, the work ends in peace.
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|Date published||12 Jun 2018|